Fredy Argir

The Class Reunion

By Fredy Argir

The lobby was buzzing as he approached the table beneath the banner that said, “Welcome Back, Pine Lake Lumberjacks—Class of ‘64!” Seated at it were three women about his age; one of them recognized him immediately.

“Well, well, well. It looks like Mister Carlson finally made it to one of his class reunions,” said the white-haired Italian lady in the middle.

“Hello, Kate. It’s good to see you.”

“Benjamin, we didn’t get an RSVP from you,” she said with a quizzical look as she glanced at the list in front of her.

“Yes, I know. I found the postcard in a stack of old mail a couple of days ago and I thought I’d just show up. I hope that’s not a problem.”

“Oh, no, no; not at all. I’m glad you could make it. Just go on in. I’m sure you’ll recognize everyone.”

“I doubt it,” he said as he walked away. He hadn’t been to Pine Lake since his mother died—twenty-six years ago.

As soon as he entered the old ballroom and saw the masks of once familiar faces transformed by fifty years, he thought: What the hell am I doing here? And he would have turned and left right then had it not been for the tall, slender lady walking toward him. Do I know her? he wondered.

She walked up to him and extended her hand. “Hello Benjamin. I’m Diane. Remember me?”

He hadn’t counted on seeing her here; or ever again, for that matter. “Of course,” he said, looking into her eyes. Yes, they were still the same deep blue but the years had dimmed them a little.

“My husband and I are sitting right over there,” she said. “Would you like to join us?”

“Thanks. I’m looking for someone at the moment but let’s talk later, okay?”

She reached down, took his hand, and looked up at him. “It’s good to see you, Benjamin. I’ve thought about you over the years.”

“Likewise,” he said, looking away—then back. He wanted to talk to her but he couldn’t—not now. She smiled and returned to her group.

He avoided any kind of eye contact as he followed the wall toward the back of the room to an empty table. Before he sat down, he slowly—deliberately—scanned the ballroom in front of him, every face—until he saw him. He recognized him in an instant. He’s here, he thought. The son-of-a-bitch is here!

Just the sight of that face infuriated him. He didn’t see a skinny, gray, fragile old man in a rumpled suit slumped in a chair—he saw a cocky, sneering punk in a leather jacket with greasy hair and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. As he stared at him, the distant past and the present moment became one and the same. He could almost taste the blood and broken glass. He reached inside his coat and unsnapped his holster. The weight against his chest was reassuring.

 

© 2017 Fredy Argir. All Rights Reserved.